early adopters
Lauren Supron

If social media was a high school – early adopters would be the captain of the varsity football team or the head cheerleader. Unfortunately, startups are the transfer student that few people know exists. The early adopter is your brand’s crush – they are perfect for you: bold, influential, unafraid to take risks, trusted, confident and seem to be friends with everyone. As an emerging product you need to pursue the early adopter, but like in any new-age relationship, you’ll have to take some risks, make the first move and even do a little Facebook stalking. When it comes to pursuing your early adopter, although initially scary, in the end your new relationship will be worth it.

In a time where customer reviews can dictate your reputation as a brand, startups are at an immediate disadvantage. That’s why getting risk-taking early adopters on your side is important – as a new brand, early adopters might feel as though trusting you is a little risky. That’s why we’ve identified the four steps you can take to find and influence the consumer of your dreams through social media.

1. Create The (Dating) Profile: Whose life is going to be made exponentially better by your new product or service? Answer that question and you’ve just identified the persona of your early adopter. Next, start brainstorming a hypothetical dating profile for this dreamy set of individuals. For example:

Meet Zoey! Zoey is a 22-year-old college graduate with an environmental science degree. She has 3 dogs that she rescued from the local animal shelter. Zoe is a crowdfunding enthusiast who loves to share the next big thing with her friends and family on Facebook. When she isn’t watching reruns of Friends she is out to eat (a total foodie) and quick to post her #ForkFeed all over Instagram.

While some of this information seems silly and irrelevant, it is information you’ll be able to use when searching for and influencing people like Zoey.

Not interested in the hypothetical? Think of a REAL person you know that loves and will benefit from your product or idea. Regardless of if that person is a friend, family or colleague,check out THEIR social platforms. What are they posting about? What groups have the joined? What bands, restaurants and books do they “like”? What hashtags do they use? Where do they invest their time and money? All of that information helps you develop a profile for your early adopter. By creating an identity for this dream consumer you gather some seemingly silly, but truly important information that will help you not only find them on social media but grab their attention, increase your relevance and ultimately influence them!

2. Make The First Move: Now that you’ve found your dream boy/girl/group and know a bit more about them, the ball is in your court. You’ve essentially scored their hypothetical “digits” and it’s time you reach out to them. With a little help from the target consumer (dating) profile above, you’re now able to target your dream consumer group effectively with Facebook ads.

Using the information you’ve gathered such as age, sex, interests, education and spending habits, you are better able to locate and introduce them to their new favorite product – YOURS. Don’t psych yourself out, be confident, you’ve got exactly what they’re looking for. You’re not an ad-gone-wrong story about the local steakhouse accidentally targeting vegetarians. You’ve done your research and it’s time you give that early adopter what they want – the item they didn’t know existed, but soon will be unable to live without!

3. Be open, timely, honest and consistent: To put it simply – be present on social media. In an article by Bain & Co “83% of complaints that received a reply on social media liked or loved the fact that the company responded”. Social media is where the conversation is happening – frequently, vehemently and without mercy. It’s where relationships begin, early adopters are found and loyal customers are created. Think of how you use your social media platforms – to find information, interact with like-minded (and sometimes not-so-like-minded) people and get your questions answered quickly and accurately. Your business account should be no different.

Many companies get caught up in the mix and don’t respond promptly, if at all, but more is expected of smaller businesses and not responding is not an option. Early adopters want to trust your company and support your product, be present and give them a reason to! Your honesty and consistency will not go unnoticed in a time when auto-response and chats with bots seem to be the norm.

4. Be relevant and unafraid to join the conversation: When you’re new to social media (or a relationship for that matter) it’s frightening and sometimes difficult to initiate meaningful conversation. Think of joining social media as a startup as going on a first date, the pressure to perform and bring your A game is tough, so naturally, group dates seem like the less intimidating option. In this case, Facebook groups and relevant hashtags are your group date. Go for it, the pressure’s off (sort of)!

Social media encourages users to join all types of conversations. When your brand relies heavily on organic and paid social media to find and influence early adopters, you’ve got to do a little grunt work. Since you’ve already done some rock star research in identifying your consumer’s passions and interests, you now have the chance to easily become associated within these topics.

In the case that your dream influencer is not a “group joiner”, relevant hashtags provide plenty of opportunity. As a new brand or product, creating a brand new hashtag to represent your product may not be the best move. This fresh hashtag will have little-to-no conversation and engagement associated with it in the beginning, and getting the conversation started there is going to be another hurdle you must jump over. By riding the coattails of a popular and current hashtag you are allowing your social accounts to become easily discoverable by users with common interests. The key is to think like your early adopter, and then engage like them. In the case where you have a specific influencer in mind, it’s also a good idea to browse their social accounts. Look for hashtags they frequently use and use them in your own posts. Both of these techniques leave your account easy to find by your dream influencers.

Now that you’ve discovered these dreamy, powerful and passionate individuals it is up to YOUR company to influence them. In the wise words of Noah from the Notebook, “It’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day.” This same mentality applies to the relationship between you and your early adopters. While it may seem like a lot of work, it will all be worth it when early adopters are sharing, promoting and loving on your product all over the internet! Don’t be scared, go out there and make the first move, Startups + Early Adopters = A Match Made In Marketing Heaven.

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